Can a pundit change?

I have to say I have a soft spot for Margaret Wente. Sure, she is a conservative who sounds off frequently on issues that she really has no business writing about. But, boy. is she a good writer and she has a knack of connecting with the same deeply embedded conservative populism that Harper likes to mine.

Today I was struck by a compare-and-contrast of Wente before climate change became a huge, global, political issue and after. In today’s Globe Margaret Wente leads:

Okay, I admit it. I’m embarrassed that I drive an SUV. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a naked statement that one’s carbon footprint is colossal. It might as well have a bumper sticker that says, “To hell with the planet.”

She then goes on to (correctly) debunk the “carbon offset” market, then concludes:

The trouble is, buying a year of offsets on TerraPass’s website is ridiculously easy. It takes about a minute and a half. And $79.95 is a small price to pay to assuage my carbon guilt. Secretly, I know the only surefire way to lower my emissions is to drive less. But who wants to do that?

And here is Margaret Wente, circa August 2005:

The other day I stuck the nozzle in the tank of my dainty little SUV and paid for my first $50 fill. It was a shock, but I knew it was coming, and I know it’s going to get worse. … Theoretically, I know my car dependency is bad (and my SUV dependency is even worse). It pollutes the air, undermines our cash-strapped transit system, contributes to wasteful land use and ugly urban sprawl, destroys the fabric of communities, and promotes obesity. And now, it’s costing me fifty bucks a fill. I ought to kick the habit. And one day, I will — the day that someone wrests the car keys from my cold, dead fingers.

Of note, back then, climate change does not even figure on her list of reasons not to drive. So has Wente progressed as a conscious human being? You tell me.


  • janfromthebruce

    Well yes. Wente, recognizes her behaviour in relationship to carbon emissions and as a result climate change. Moreover, the tools she has available to mitigate her carbon emissions is pure crap (correct); it does not change her overall behaviour, so she knows that a ‘cap’ on her behaviour might change it. However, she knows she can avoid to pay her way to keep on emitting.
    I think someone like Wente, if it was available, would sell her SUV, if she had an electric car, with power coming from a source, that wasn’t emitting carbons in this making.
    To that end, Wente isn’t actually there yet, in terms of consciousness, as she isn’t willing to change her overall behaviour unless it is made easier for her in some ways, and really hard in others.

  • Cynicism stops change dead in its tracks.

    Just as an aside, the Globe’s new redesign calls for a comparison to the Guardian and our “national newspaper” is an intellectual embarrassment in that light. I actually feel embarrassed by Wente’s writing in our “national” paper. Are we really that weak?

  • The Globe’s competition is the Post so what do you expect?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *